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NYC Health Board Approves Bloomberg's Big-Size Sugary Drink Ban

Posted On: 9/13/2012

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TAGS: Bloomberg soda ban, New York City sugar drink ban, obesity, NYC health board, New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, National Automatic Merchandising Association, National Beverage Association, vending, vending machine, Mayor Michael Bloomberg

NEW YORK CITY -- The New York City Board of Health voted 8-0 to approve Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on large sugary drinks on Sept. 13.

Marking the first such ban of its kind in the country, the new rule aimed at lowering the city's rising obesity rates will prohibit restaurants, delis, concessions, food carts and other city venues from selling sweetened drinks in containers bigger than 16 fl.oz.

It will apply only to drinks that contain more than 25 calories per 8-fl.oz. serving, and would not extend to diet sodas, fruit juices, milk-based drinks or alcoholic beverages. Vending machines, convenience stores and establishments that do not receive health grades from the health department will be exempt.

Bloomberg, who proposed the measure in May, celebrated its passage on Twitter. "NYC's new sugary drink policy is the single-biggest step any gov't has taken to curb obesity," he wrote. "It will help save lives."

The guidelines will take effect in six months. Their passage only required the health board's vote to become binding.

The health board, appointed by the mayor, said it received 38,000 comments, with 32,000 in support and 6,000 opposed. Its opponents included New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, a coalition that includes the National Automatic Merchandising Association, which represents the vending machine industry, and the National Beverage Association. | SEE STORY

The coalition has vowed that it will fight the measure by other means, possibly in the courts.

Health board members backed their decision, citing that 5,000 New Yorkers die annually for reasons related to obesity, and claimed that there is strong evidence that supports a link between sweetened drinks and obesity.

However, one health board member abstained from voting. Sixto R. Caro, former president of the Spanish American Medical Dental Society of New York, expressed concern before the vote about the financial impact of the proposal on some small businesses.

The Bloomberg administration has made curbing obesity a top priority, as more than half of adult New Yorkers are obese or overweight, according to the city's health department. During the past nine years, the city has required that chain restaurants post calorie counts on menus, banned trans fat from restaurants and prepared foods, and blocked sugary soft drinks from vending machines in schools and city buildings.